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April 29, 2017

Legislative Update 4.28.2017

Visit from George "Iceman" Gervin

We were joined by George "Iceman" Gervin on Wednesday, April 26th. Brother of Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Iceman remains the Spurs all-time leader in points per game. He joins Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as one of the only three players in NBA history to win at least four titles.

Laying out the Krystal Jean Baker Act


On Monday, April 24th, I presented House Bill 3513, the Krystal Jean Baker Act, to the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. This bill will require DNA collection upon arrest for all felonies.


In March of 1996, thirteen-year-old Krystal Jean Baker was abducted in Texas City. Her body was found under the Trinity River Bridge in Chambers County. Her case went unsolved for 14 years.
In 2010, officials in Chambers County were able to solve the cold case by utilizing a DNA sample collected by Louisiana. The perpetrator was arrested in Louisiana for a misdemeanor drug charge earlier that same year. Louisiana law requires DNA samples to be taken at the time of arrest, rather than after the conviction of a felony charge.
Currently, Texas only collects DNA when a person is indicted or convicted of certain felony charges. By expanding the requirement to take DNA upon arrest for a felony, the rate crimes are solved will increase as well. Additionally, this will increase the amount of exonerations of innocent Texans.

A very special thank you to Jayann Sepich and Ashley Clauer for sharing their personal stories about how DNA taken upon arrest has touched their lives. Also thank you to Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck and Chambers County Assistant District Attorney Eric Carcerano for coming to Austin to advocate on an issue very close to them.







Texas Windstorm Insurance Association



Yesterday I supported my fellow colleague, Rep. Dade Phelan, on House Bill 3018.


 HB 3018 would level the playing field for windstorm and hail insurance agents by allowing access to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) for a licensed agent of any state that allowed nonresident Texas agents access to their state's windstorm insurer of last resort.  This bill would create reciprocity for nonresident TWIA insurance agents.

 My own TWIA bills, House Bills 3509 and 3510 were voted out of committee this week and are headed to the Calendars committee.


Texas Funeral Service Commission Legislation



This week I had the great pleasure to join Jay Carnes and Tim King with Carnes Funeral Home before the House Public Health Committee, to lay out and consider House Bill 3945, relating to the to the membership of the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

House Bill 3945 seeks to modify one of the three industry seats reserved for a member who is licensed as both an embalmer and a funeral director to require that that the person instead be a funeral director and crematorium operator. The cremation rate in the United States has been increasing steadily with the national average rate rising from 3.56% in 1960 to 40.62% in 2010 and projections from the Cremation Association of North America forecasting a rate of 44.42% in 2015 and 55.65% in 2025. Therefore adding this additional expertise is vital to the continued growth of the industry in this particular field


Visit from Chancellor William McRaven

On Monday I had the pleasure of visiting with Admiral William H. McRaven, Chancellor of the UT System.


Chambers County Overweight Corridor


Thursday night I presented House Bill 2778 to the House Transportation Committee. House Bill 2778 further clarifies the roadways for which Chambers County may issue permits for oversize or overweight vehicles carrying cargo.  The purpose of this clarification is to reduce the number of trucks on certain roadways within Chambers County.  HB 2778 will provide a means for cargo to move more effectively and efficiently while reducing the cost of taxpayers for roadway maintenance. 



I would like to say a special thank you to Chambers County Commissioner Rusty Senac and Alison Haynes for testifying. Alison represents Richardson and Stevedoring.


Sanctuary Cities 



After going all day Wednesday and continuing into Thursday, Senate Bill 4 known as the Sanctuary Cities bill passed the Texas House of Representatives. SB 4 prohibits local governments from preventing police from enforcing immigration laws. 



The bill will now go back to the upper chamber, where senators have the option to accept the changes the House made or call for a conference committee in which members from both chambers iron out the differences.